- Sears' former CEO Eddie Lampert held a town hall with 1,000 employees Tuesday, a day after it filed for bankruptcy.
- He encouraged them to prepare them for what will be the company's most important holiday season.
In a Tuesday morning town hall, former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert gave 1,000 of his employees a rallying cry as the company gears up for its most important holiday season.
"We need to show material progress over the next few months to establish to our senior lenders that a reorganization of the company is realistic and to avoid a shut down and liquidation," Lampert said at the retailer's headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, according an exclusive transcript obtained by CNBC.
The retailer filed for bankruptcy Monday morning saddled by debt and declining sales. Under chapter 11 protection it is closing unprofitable stores and will try to sell roughly 400 of its better performing stores as it looks to stay alive.
Lampert, who stepped down as CEO on Monday after five years in the role, said the speech marked the "second most difficult public speaking event" in his lifetime. The first was speaking at his father's funeral 41 years ago.
In the speech, Lampert admitted both missteps and unexpected challenges.
"When Sears and Kmart merged in 2005, I envisioned a company that would be different and relevant for the 21st century. ... These were two, iconic companies that had lost their way," Lampert said, adding he had seen an opportunity in transforming the two together as a different kind of retailer.
"As we all know, we haven't capitalized on this opportunity the way I would have liked," he later added. "Instead of growth and investment we have faced retrenchment and restructuring."
Sears hasn't turned a profit since 2010, limiting its ability to invest in the company and for the future. It's faced bigger competition from better capitalized competitors like Walmart and Target, while also combating the rise of online shopping. Its 140,000-square-foot stores have begun to seem monstrous as foot traffic has dropped.
"There were mistakes along the way, for which I take responsibility. Those failures have affected me in many ways far greater than any successes I have had," Lampert said.
The company has more than 68,000 employees, according to bankruptcy documents filed Monday.
With CNBC in the U.S., CNBC in Asia Pacific, CNBC in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and CNBC World, CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news and provides real-time financial market coverage and business information 410 million homes worldwide, including more than 90 million households in the United States and Canada. CNBC also provides daily business updates to 400 million households across China. The network's 15 live hours a day of business programming in North America (weekdays from 4:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC's highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries.
CNBC Digital delivers more than 52 million multi-platform unique visitors each month. CNBC.com provides real-time financial market news and information to CNBC's investor audience. CNBC Make It is a digital destination focused on making you smarter about how you earn, save and spend your money by zeroing in on careers, leadership, entrepreneurship and personal finance.
CNBC has a vast portfolio of digital products, offering CNBC content to a variety of platforms such as: CNBC.com; CNBC PRO, a premium service that provides in-depth access to Wall Street; a suite of CNBC mobile apps for iOS and Android devices; Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri voice interfaces; and streaming services including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung Smart TVs. To learn more, visit https://www.cnbc.com/digital-products/.
Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBCUniversal Media Village Web site at http://www.nbcumv.com/programming/cnbc. For more information about NBCUniversal, please visit http://www.NBCUniversal.com.